New Delhi, Jul 8 (UNI) As the Left Parties today decided against attending the July 10 meeting of the UPA-Left Panel on nuclear deal in view of its decision to withdraw support, the Government today told them the "exact" text of the negotiations with the IAEA on India-specific safeguards agreement was "a privileged document held in confidence and could not be shared with third parties." Within hours after the Left announced that it would meet the President tomorrow to formally convey their decision to withdraw support, External Affirs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is also the Chairman of the UPA-Left panel, wrote a letter to CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat explaining why the government could not give them the copy of the full text of the draft agreement with the IAEA, the nuclear watchdog of the United Nations.
"...The text was a privileged document held in confidence between the Government of India and the IAEA Secretariat and that it could not be shared with third parties without going through laid down procedures of the IAEA," he said.
While announcing the withdrawal of support, the Left parties alleged that the government had not made available to the UPA-Left Panel the outcome of the talks with the IAEA despite the panel having had nine meetings so far.
Without the text, the committee could not come to any findings, the Left Parties said, while complaining that the UPA had refused to provide the text and without which no purpose would be served with a meeting on July 10.
A joint communique, signed by all the General Secretaries of the Left Parties, pointed towards the sixth meeting of the panel on November 16, 2007 "where it was decided that the government will proceed with the talks and the outcome will be presented to the Committee for its consideration before it finalises its findings. " Mr Mukherjee said in today's letter that it was because of the confidentiality of the text that the government had provided to the panel members, "confidential briefing texts" summarising the contents of the agreement and the outcome of the negotiations.
He also recalled the discussion held at the seventh, eighth and ninth meetings of the UPA-Left Panel on the basis of the confidential briefing texts.
"You would also recall that when some members of the committee asked for the full text, I had pointed out that they would have to join government in order to have access to the text," Mr Mukherjee said, while pointing out that he was saying this only to set the record straight.
UNI KSA/SH HS AS1850